My goal – Two Initials!
I am a Christian writer, albeit not a successful one (so far). Still, with regard to my writing I have one clear goal – two initials.
All the great Christian theologians are known just by their initials: C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, C.T. Studd, J.I. Packer, D.L. Moody and A.B. Simpson just to name a few. It seems the more respected you are as a Christian theologian the more people stop using your name and resort to just initials.
For most, the two-initial status doesn’t come until you’re dead. For example, to us Chuck Swindoll is still just Chuck, and Billy Graham is just Billy. Future generations, however, may refer to them as C.R. Swindoll and W.R. Graham. In rare cases, like Dr. D. James Kennedy, they get halfway to two-initial fame before even before they die. John R. W. Stott was blessed with three names, so he got to use two initials while still alive, but still he couldn’t lose that “John” while still living. Someday John R.W. Stott may join J.R.R. Tolkien as one of those rare three-initial legends.
The pinnacle of theology, however, is when the initials vanish altogether and you are remembered only by your last name. Who even knows what Augustine’s first name was? He went from full-name recognition, passed through two-initials fame and in the end graduated to last-name-only recognition. There are only a few of these theological superheroes – Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Anselm and Augustine are the ones that immediately come to mind. The reason we use their last names only is twofold:
- Most of the Apostles had only one name so Christian greats should also have only one name. If the Bible refers to you with two names, like Pontius Pilate or Judas Iscariot, it usually meant you were a bad guy. It’s very similar to the modern tendency for really evil guys to have three names like John Wayne Gacy or Lee Harvey Oswald.
- These one-name greats have influenced Christendom so much that we build entire denominations around their teachings. We have Wesleyan theology, Calvinist beliefs, and some call themselves Augustinians. It would be awkward to say, “I attend First Martin Lutheran Church.”
So since I am still living my short-term goal is to be known as C.M. McFall instead of just Cris. Even C. Merrill McFall would be a welcome baby step. But who knows? With God’s blessing perhaps someday, decades after my death, students at seminaries will one day say, “I’m a reformed McFallian.”